Desperation is not good, but neither is being too fussy

February 22, 2014

Sometimes the city of Washington seems like the perennially fussy and perpetually single person who turns up their nose to a suitor because, well, they’re just not quite right.

You know the type: They brush off dates and sit home alone because someone’s knees are knobby or their nails aren’t precisely manicured.

In Washington’s case, city officials put up roadblocks and manned the barricades earlier this month when they turned down a plan by Pittsburgh-based developers PA Wealth Builders LLC to convert a former convent on North Franklin Street into commercial use or a boarding house for workers who temporarily shuttle into the area to work in the oil and gas industry.

With Councilman Ken Westcott casting the lone dissenting vote, Washington City Council rejected the proposal Feb. 13, arguing that it was not in keeping with the city’s zoning regulations. The developers have now promised to take the city to court.

So instead of having a business on the tax rolls, precious city resources will be drained away in legal battles.

One of the developers complained that in the seven months since they had purchased the building for only $10,000, the city had offered no guidance on how the structure could be utilized and “we just want to use it for something. They city hasn’t told us anything about what we can do.”

The nearby Immaculate Conception Parish also raised objections. While proclaiming that the church wanted to be “a good neighbor,” the church’s pastor, the Rev. William Feeney, told council he was concerned about parking and “about the nature of that type of housing adjacent to a (grade) school and a couple of churches.”

But we find it hard to imagine that a structure that’s sitting empty, and the blight in its vicinity, is a better neighbor. And who knows? Maybe some of those folks who Feeney worries won’t be good neighbors might consider sitting in the pews of Immaculate Conception on a Sunday morning or two.

While insisting that he welcomes development, Councilman Joe Manning said he was worried about how a boardinghouse would affect the neighborhood and “when you act desperate, you’re viewed as being desperate.”

No, desperation is never good. But when you’re viewed as being an uncompromising fussbudget, people just give up altogether and quit asking you out.



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